The Great Lunar Craters

Every part of the lunar surface is fascinating to examine visually and to record with a webcam, but I would be lying if I did not say that there are some 20 or so craters that are favorite objects among amateur astronomers. These craters really make you appreciate how lucky we are to have such a nearby planet to examine, month after month. After a year or so of observing and imaging the Moon, these craters will become etched in your memory and you will look forward to those critical interplays of light and shadow on the craters' floors. You will wonder when you will next see a crater at a specific illumination and just how far the shadow from this or that mountain peak can stretch across the crater floor. You will dream of a clear night and steady seeing when you can just capture that critical phase that you have never seen before. One book, now out of print, that really captures the essence of addictive lunar observing is highly recommended. It is Harold Hill's A Portfolio of Lunar Drawings, published by Cambridge University Press in 1991. Hill (not to be confused with the stand-up comedian of the same name!) was, perhaps, the greatest lunar observer and artist of all time and his exquisite sketches, made over a lifetime of observing, still inspire me, even though I could not sketch a crater to save my life!

This is not a book about the Moon, but about using webcams. However, I think I would be neglecting my duties if I did not direct the beginner to some of the Moon's most spectacular craters. My list is by no means comprehensive; it largely just consists of my favorite craters and regions. For a full account of how to observe the Moon I would recommend acquiring a copy of Gerald North's excellent book Observing the Moon, which is lavishly illustrated with photographs from the 1.55-meter Catalina telescope in Arizona. Taken in the 1960s, these photographs are of a similar resolution to modern amateur images.

Here are some of the Moon's best features (see Figure 10.1b. for their location).

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